Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Kili Day 4

At lunch we played a game of "What Kind of Meat Is It?" 

Chicken? Pork? Shoe?

When the answer was revealed to be "Fish", it was clear that this was a game with no winners.

The food quality may not be increasing with the passage of time; however, he climb is becoming more interesting as we reach higher elevations. Not so much because of the scenery, but more so because the terrain is now more varied. Stretches of walking are now broken up by tricky manoeuvring around rocks and careful selection of lines to ascend and descend steeper slopes. 

At the same time, the trail is becoming busier. Several routes up the mountain are converging into a final common trail and we are seeing an increasing number of other hikers. And, for the first time, we are seeing them moving in both directions. Seeing the faces of people who have begun their descent after reaching the summit this morning is motivating. We are almost there. 

We are again passing the afternoon under the protection of our tent, escaping the rain and hoping that we might get an early sleep. It feels a bit like a daytime disco in here; base camp is buzzing with the enthusiastic sounds of other hikers who have just returned from the summit and are packing up their gear before continuing their descent.

Our plan is to wake up sometime in the middle of the night in order to begin our final push to the summit; with the goal of being there for sun rise. It's a little odd to sleep in the middle of the afternoon, in the light of day and with the sound of human activity all around...but I'm a pretty good sleeper, so I'm going to give it a go.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Kili Day 3

When I was young, I was fascinated by clouds. I used to imagine myself falling from the sky and landing on one. My parents had taught me enough to know that clouds are not, in fact, solid (giving me the requisite knowledge to understand the absurdity of my fantasy). Yet, I remember sitting on airplanes, looking down at the carpet of water vapour and thinking that maybe, just maybe, somewhere it must be dense enough to support me. 

Maybe this is why I didn't grow up to become a scientist. 

While I no longer imagine myself playing on the clouds, I still look at them with wonder. Clouds are like living things, constantly changing and capable of extraordinary things (case in point: Calgary clouds in July. Calgarians cyclists, you know exactly what I'm talking about). 

On Kili, its like the clouds are an extension of the mountain; a blanket that never lifts. When we started hiking this morning, we could see the fluffy white blanket of cloud below us. It formed a sort of skirt around the base of the mountain. As we ascended, we looked back from time to time to notice the skirt moving closer and closer to us. There was no wind or anything; the cloud just snuck farther and faster up the mountainā€¦chasing us at a pace faster than we could walk. 
It was a few hundred metres away. Then a wall of white behind us. Then, instantly, it was all around us. 

It was like a scene in a movie where the protagonist enters a dream sceneā€¦or a horror scene. And, in a way, it did take us away to a different place. The whiteness of the cloud distilled the scenery so that everything around us seemed to change. There were no more plants. Just rocks. Rocks with fungus. Bright, orange, stringy fungus, forming beards on the rocks. 
I thought of the Fraggels, but it was a reference that was lost on both Pierre and our guide. Imagining the rocks coming to life, even if it was a daydream that I couldn't share with my companions, was a welcome distraction from the rain that accompanied the cloud. 

We continued for another hour or so in the cold and rain, before reaching camp. Something tells me that, in the clearness of the morning, this place has a wonderful view of the plains on one side, and the summit on the other. However, I'll need to wait until tomorrow, as we are spending our time here in the comfort of our tent, in an attempt to escape the rain and rest up for tomorrow.